Thursday, April 19, 2012

She relies on the Lord.

Proverbs 31:14
She is like a merchant's ship,
bringing her food from afar.

This passage threw me off guard a little bit.  What does it mean to be a merchant's ship and how does that relate to being a woman of noble character?  Unsure of exactly what to share today, I read a few Biblical commentaries that all seemed to have different things to say about the meaning of Proverbs 31:14.  Some said it was describing how a wife of noble character doesn't feed her family the same kind of food each day.  She will travel all over at her own expense to provide meals of variety to her family.

Some scholars stated that Proverbs 31:14 meant that a godly woman brought food with her from afar as she traveled, providing the poor and needy in distant lands with sustenance. 

Another commentary stated that the word "food" in this passage was equivalent to the word "bread," which actually meant the bread of life or the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  A woman of God brings the Gospel with her wherever she goes, traveling all over the world to share the Good News.

I have yet to find a description of Proverbs 31:14 that I don't like or that I can't learn from, but today let's look at how a merchant's ship works and how we can apply this to our lives. 

A merchant's ship in the times of King Solomon was not self-propelled.  It didn't rely on sole man-power or powerful engines to go from one place to another.  Its main source of power was the wind in its sails.  In other words, the Lord was in control of sending the merchant's ship where it needed to go.  Although the sailors worked hard to care for their ship during their travels, they ultimately had to trust that the Lord would guide them to their destination.

Are you self-propelled or do you allow the Lord to guide you in the paths you take each day?

It's nearing the end of the school year and I know how easy it can be to become absorbed in our own hectic schedules.  There is studying and work to be done; it's so easy to focus on other things.  Without thinking, we grow overwhelmed with stress and worry about what's ahead rather than trusting the Lord to guide us in each day.

Psalm 32:8 says, "The Lord says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you.'"  The Lord has great and beautiful plans for you.  He wants you to trust in Him instead of struggling to propel yourself through life's trials on your own.  

Just like the rowers of the merchant's ships in Solomon's times who couldn't depend solely on their own strength to row from Israel all the way to Egypt and other far-off countries, you cannot rely on your own wisdom and abilities to get you through the day-to-day.  The merchants had to rely on the power of the Lord to guide them.  In order to live with joy and peace, you must do the same.   

My challenge today will not be as simple as to say, "Okay, ladies, today I want you to ask the Lord to guide your path!"  That's a great thing to say and feel, but in order to allow the Lord to take control, you must actually give Him the steering wheel.  Don't just think, "Yes, this steering wheel that I'm clutching in my hands is all Yours, God."  Let go of your control.  Allow Him to guide your path.

I challenge you to spend at least thirty minutes each day for the next week in solid, uninterrupted prayer and God's Word.  Spend quiet time with Him and intentionally make the effort to ask Him to guide your heart with each decision that you make and each step that you take in your life.  Psalm 119:105 says, "Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light to my path."  As you make an effort to spend time immersing yourself in God's Word, He will guide you, even on your most stressful and frustrating of days.  

Before you get out of bed, stop and ask the Lord, "Please guide my life today."  Ask Him to give you the strength to make it through the day with dignity and with love.  Ask Him to keep you on the right path, to guard your heart, and to fulfill the plans He has for you, not what you've planned for yourself.

Be like a merchant's ship and trust in the Lord to bring you to the place you need to be.  Keep in constant conversation with God, praying continually as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, and involve Him in every decision you make.

Don't rely on your own strength today.  It will only end up in a shipwreck.

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